Lillian Daniel: What Makes a Good Boss?

"Masters, it's the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them." - Ephesians 6:9 , The Message 

At a workshop on supervision, a group of us were telling stories about past bosses. 

One person worked for an admiral who had a clear vision and knew how to share it. She carried his gift for managing by objective into a very different career in the non-profit world. 

Another recalled standing outside her boss' office, hearing the laughter of the "in-crowd" from behind the closed door, and suddenly realizing that she was in the "out-crowd." Her boss promoted his buddies and ignored the rest of the team. She decided at that moment that if she was ever a boss, she did not want to play favorites.

Some people described lonely and confused work environments where the staff seldom met together. They had no idea what their supervisor expected of them, until they were told they had failed in some way. They didn't want to do that to the people they supervised, so they tried to be clearer.

One described a boss who didn't fix things but talked people through their situation and then told them to clean up their own messes. It wasn't easy, but people grew as a result.

Within our group of storytellers, we had something in common. We had all learned something from our experience of being supervised that shaped how we supervised today.

Maybe a good boss just remembers having a boss. 

Titles and roles come and go, but nothing on our resume will get us a corner office in heaven. 


Dear Jesus, please accept my application for the position of beloved child of God. I know you have many candidates but I have also heard that there are unlimited openings. I hope to make a difference in your organization. Amen.

From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit